How to Overcome the Fear and Enter Lucid Dreams
Sleep paralysis (SP) is one of the most controversial topics related to lucid dreaming. Many people experience it involuntarily either when falling asleep or waking up. For some: a dark room + being paralyzed = sheer panic and terror.
I'm here to tell you to pursue this "feared" state and use it to experience life changing Wake Induced Lucid Dreams and out-of-body experiences.
What is it?
Every time you enter REM sleep (that's 4-5 times a night) your body becomes fully paralyzed. It is a natural mechanism that prevents your body from moving while you dream. Otherwise you would be acting out your dreams every night!
Since SP is supposed to occur while you are asleep, the only way to become aware of it is through a state called Mind Awake/Body Asleep. This basically means that your mind is awake, but your body is asleep. It can occur while falling asleep or waking up.
As you fall asleep, your body "tests" your brain to see if it is still awake or not. This might include the urge to turn over, move, or scratch an itch. When you respond to that urge (turn, move, scratch, etc.), your body knows that you are still awake...so it waits. It is only until you are fully relaxed and unable to respond to these urges that your body will fall asleep. If you are able to trick your body (intentionally or unintentionally) that you have fallen asleep, you will experience SP.
When you wake up into SP, it means that your mind found a way to "wake up" first without your body knowing. Since your brain is very active during REM sleep (which is the lightest state of sleep), it is easy to see how this might happen.
What does it feel like?
In short, you can't move or speak. You're stuck in cement.
For me, the feeling typically starts at my feet and works its way up towards my head in a matter of seconds. I begin to feel very rigid as a wave of paralysis overtakes my body. At the same time I feel a weight on my chest, almost as if a cat or dog is laying right on top of me.
Once I'm fully paralyzed, I can't move my body or speak. The only control I have is opening my eyes (they usually feel really heavy) and breathing. That's it.
There are those who will tell you that this is the most terrifying thing they've ever experienced. In addition to paralysis, many describe the presence of a shadowy figure at the foot of their bed and often hear voices and other strange noises.
If you've ever been haunted by SP, it's due to one of three reasons:
- It was new. You'd never heard of SP before. You didn't know what was happening.
- You expected it. Deep down, you expected it to be terrifying. You heard others talking about how awful it can be or you've watched movies like Insidious and Nightmare on Elm Street.
- Stress. Your emotional state has a lot to do with how you experience things (both night and day).
In all three instances, fear is the driving force. Don't let it overcome you. Learn to stay calm and know that you are in control of your own thoughts.
Sleep Paralysis to Lucid Dreams
It's ironic how a feeling of helplessness can transition into one of true freedom. Learn how to enter sleep paralysis and use it to transcend into a lucid dream.
- Good frame of mind. Make sure you are prepared by being calm and relaxed. Don't attempt this if you are in a bad mood or have experienced a stressful day.
- DON'T ATTEMPT AT YOUR BEDTIME. It won't work at this time. You need to be close to entering REM sleep. This won't occur until you've slept for at least 90 minutes.
- ATTEMPT EITHER: after 4.5 or 6 hours of sleep (see: WBTB for instructions) or during a nap.
- You must be extremely relaxed. The goal is to have your body fall asleep while keeping your mind alert. If you attempt this after 4.5 or 6 hours of sleep, you should already be relaxed. But, if you're attempting this during a nap, any type of physical exertion beforehand (workout, hike, swim, etc.) can help.
- Lie down. Find a comfortable spot. Make sure you won't be disturbed by phones, noises, other people, pets, etc. I've had my best results when I'm lying on my back, but I've experienced it lying on my stomach and side as well.
- Relax to the point of falling asleep. Get to the point where you are about to nod off. Take your time. Relax your face, jaw, shoulders, everything...
- Focus on your body. As you get closer to sleep, it will become harder to stay alert. Remember, you have been conditioned to fall asleep here...it won't be easy to defy that. Stay focused by choosing an area of your body and bringing your attention to the sensations you feel there.
- Resist the urge. As I said earlier, your body is trying to see if you are still awake or not by giving you the urge to move, itch, etc. Don't react to these urges!
- Mind Awake/Body Asleep. This is when SP will occur. You might also experience body vibrations, noises, and/or hypnogogic imagery. This is normal.
- Exit SP into a lucid dream or out-of-body experience. Sometimes this happens naturally and you'll start to see the dream environment form around you. But if you're stuck in paralysis, try one of these techniques:
- Roll out. You won't be able to move your physical body, so you are going to roll your dream body. In one quick motion, roll to one side to exit.
- Sit up. Same principle. Quickly sit up out of your physical body.
Getting out of sleep paralysis
If you start feeling scared and want to abort, follow these steps:
- Close your eyes! Keeping your eyes open will only fuel your fear. Remember, you're probably in a dark room. You're on the verge of dreaming, so you might even see and experience some imagery, voices, etc. Don't be tempted to look...keep your eyes closed.
- Take slow, deep breaths. Your body thinks it's asleep, that's why you're paralyzed. So, in order to wake it up, you have to send it a signal. The only things you can control right now are your eyes (keep them closed) and your breathing. By taking slow, deep breaths you disrupt your body's involuntary breathing pattern. This notifies your brain that you are breathing manually...and wakes you up.
- Stay calm. This will take at least 10 seconds (usually a little longer) to work. Keep up the slow, deep breaths and remember...you're fine.
Sleep paralysis is not required to have lucid dreams. There are plenty of other induction
techniques that work just as well.
In all of my experiences with sleep paralysis, I have never experienced the terror and fear that overcomes a lot of people in this state. Have I been afraid? Sure...at first.
Here's the way I see it...
When you watch a horror film, are you the type of person who jumps and grabs someone's arm, then turns on all the lights because you're afraid? Or are you the type who can watch any horror movie, because you understand that it just...a movie?
Sleep paralysis is virtually the same thing. You have control over your thoughts. You have the freedom to choose your experience.
Dreams and Sleep